It’s hard to follow punk music without having a brief affair with one of the Crack Rock Steady family bands. They’re all crusty squat bands that tow the line between rocksteady ska and savage hardcore and share more than a few members. Choking Victim, Leftöver Crack and now Star Fucking Hipsters (to name just a few) have all made their mark on underground music.
Lead singer and over-all mastermind, STZA, is a house-hold (or squat-hold) name in the world of punk, ska and crust. His first band, the legendary Choking Victim set the standard for political ska-punk. Born in the mid-90’s, the band introduced metal and crust elements to the tried-and-true ska-punk formula. His status as a notorious frontman continued in the now-legendary “Bubblegum crust” band Leftöver Crack and now now with his current group, Star Fucking Hipsters, he is keeping to fire burning.
While STZA jumps from band to band, the old ones never seem to truly die. “None of my past bands ever officially broke up,” he said in an interview, “Choking Victim play a handful of shows in the mid-2000’s and Leftöver Crack has some shows planned for the end of the year.” As for the reason behind all the band-hopping, “it helps creatively to play with different musicians, keeping my bands apart is intentional but it is never my intention to not play with them again.”
No matter what band STZA is currently fronting, the one constant is that the lyrics will definitely be political. While other political bands saw a surge in popularity during the 2nd Bush term and into the Obama years, STZA’s bands never saw a spike in popularity. But his inspirations remained as radical as ever. “I always need some time to put “current” political and social changes into perspective. As far as current events go, I'd put the earth's weather crisis and the idea that we will probably be fighting over clean drinking water instead of oil sooner, rather than later in this century.”
In addition to a strong political stance, STZA also holds a strong position on religion. “I am an Atheist but what other punk kids want to believe is up to them as long as long as it doesn’t hurt or brain-wash people...but I will never listen to an MXPX or Screwdriver record.” He makes a point to respect the opinion of others to separate himself from the judgmental stance held by many of his religious counterparts. “I'm in no position to point fingers at kids in a band” he said, “it's really the hell-fire, Bible-spewing adults that are causing so many problems. I've dealt with the non-hypocritical Jesus fanatics enough to understand that some of them share similar ideals with most of your garden variety Anarchists.” And while he wouldn’t touch an MXPX record with a ten-foot-pole, STZA still struggles with an old classic: “I even have trouble reconciling my love for Bad Brains because H.R. (the eclectic frontman of Bad Brains) is an extremely sexist homophobe. But if "Pay to Cum" starts playing, I can't help enjoying it. The hope is that when Bad Brains started, H.R. wasn't into all of that Rasta nonsense yet. I think it's an issue that a lot of political minded punks struggle with when they learn about it.”
So, while we’re all debating when exactly H.R. converted to Rastafarianism, we have an opportunity to see STZA perform live... tonight with his current group, Star Fucking Hipsters, at the E.S. Jungle. And while good shows at the E.S. Jungle are few and far-between (Hawthorne Heights played there last night), this is one band definitely worth checking out.